I often hear students ask what the point is of joining a professional organization, affinity group, or industry membership. Professional groups are a great way to build community, support, and mentorship in your fields of interest–they can provide excellent, up-to-date information and resources from professionals in your chosen field at all levels (students and early professionals all the way to the most senior and experienced leaders). Becoming a member of these groups is a great way to gain access to conferences, speaker events, networking opportunities, industry-specific job boards, and a focused professional community.
As part of our Black History Month series, I’ve highlighted a few great Black professional organizations in the nonprofit, education, and government career spaces. Many have deeply discounted (or free!) student memberships, now is a great time to explore joining your first professional organization.
National Forum for Black Public Administrators: The most prominent national organization dedicated to the advancement of black public leadership in local and state governments. Their upcoming spring FORUM has a variety of events focused on bringing together resources, ideas, and people wanting to make an impact in government.
National Alliance for Black School Educators: Interested in education (not just classroom teaching: school counseling, school social work, youth development, etc.)? NABSE is dedicated to improving both the educational experiences and accomplishments of African American youth through the development and use of instructional and motivational methods that increase levels of inspiration, attendance and overall achievement. They work to build a strong, supportive professional community of Black educators to help drive education change, in and out of the classroom.
Black Philanthropic Network: Like it or not, fundraising often separates the successful nonprofits from the ones who struggle to fulfill their mission. The Black Philanthropy Network brings together foundations, professionals and nonprofit organizations to enhance and think creatively about how organizations can accomplish their fundraising goals.
Search online for professional organizations that could be perfect for you! Linkedin’s “groups” search is a great place to start, as is this list from JobStars.